Westchester Sewer Stakeholder Notification Law Approved

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Peekskill Wastewater Treatment Plant (commonly referred to as the sewage treatment plant) has always been an important facility for the residents of the Hollowbrook Water District. The importance stems from the ability to remove parcels using private septic systems to being hooked into the sewer district and have their waste treated at the plant. Thus protecting the extensive web of tributaries that make up the Peekskill water supply.

The plant’s capacity was designed specifically to accommodate the land parcels within the Hollowbrook Watershed. Other such plants were constructed around the county specifically designed for similar purposes in other watersheds such as the Croton Watershed. These plants are owned and operated by the County of Westchester with the exception of a few facilities remaining privately owned and operated.

Legislator Testa at a recent tour of the Peekskill plant

Legislator Testa at a recent tour of the Peekskill plant

Although the county owns the Peekskill plant, the City has an obligation to the residents in the area to oversee the condition and capacity usage of the plant. As Mayor and now as County Legislator I have requested and initiated millions of dollars of upgrades to improve the efficiency of the plant and especially to mitigate the odors that can emanate from the plant. This can be especially problematic to those residences nearby.

The issue of capacity is a concern for all municipalities that are serviced by the Peekskill plant, as it will directly impact new development. When I was Mayor of Peekskill from 2002-07 we had a tremendous amount of new development and investment in the city that caused us to keep a close eye on the usage of the plant. Although this is not the issue the last 4-5 years for Peekskill there has been considerable new development outside of Peekskill but within the sewer district. It’s only fair that all municipalities involved monitor and notify each other of proposed projects that would need to use the plant’s capacity.

Legislator Testa speaking with the plant supervisor and county engineer while touring the Peekskill plant.

Legislator Testa speaking with the plant supervisor and county engineer while touring the Peekskill plant.

A lack of communication and a misunderstanding of the limitations of the sewer district have caused considerable tension between neighboring municipalities.  Some of these tensions could have been avoided with simple communication and inclusion.

Earlier this year I introduced Legislation at the County Board of Legislators that will ensure municipalities throughout Westchester will be better coordinated and informed about the expansion of the local sewer districts that are shared by our communities. On Monday June 3rd at the regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, (BOL) the Sewer Stakeholder Notification Law was passed by a unanimous 17-0 vote.

The lack of notification across the municipalities that share sewer infrastructure has been a problem in Westchester for decades. Capacity issues and the protection of the water supply have caused concerns, which have resulted in inter-municipality friction.  In my view the county has the responsibility to make sure all affected municipalities are notified of significant projects in the district so they may comment, plan and be involved in the process from the onset. The SEQRA requirement doesn’t always accomplish that. This law does.SewagePlantTour_5

Signing on as a cosponsor Legislator Catherine Borgia said, “As a former Town Supervisor of Ossining, I know how important it is for municipalities to share complete information to facilitate good decision making.  I applaud Legislator Testa’s common sense law and am happy to cosponsor this legislation.”

The new law requires that any legislative body of any city, town or village in Westchester County considering a resolution to petition the BOL to enlarge an existing sewer district by adding any commercial development of 25,000 square feet or more or the addition of ten residences or more must provide written notification to all the municipalities located within that sewer district or that share a County sewage treatment plant with the affected district.

About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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1 Response to Westchester Sewer Stakeholder Notification Law Approved

  1. Pingback: New post] Westchester Sewer Stakeholder Notification Law Approved | Bazzomanifesto Upstate

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